A former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Capt. Adamu Biu, has urged the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, to compel Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, to reduce intake of cadets.
Biu, who made the plea in an interview with newsmen Monday in Lagos, said that thousands of cadets were waiting for sea time training adding that if Government reduced the intake, the youth would study other courses.
“When I was the Chairman of Admission into Maritime Academy we usually have at least between 300 to 400 cadets admitted annually.
“The industry cannot absorb the number of cadets because you will need not more than four cadets per ship for sea-time training.
“Nobody can train your cadet for you but other countries could only assist to train at least a cadet onboard a ship.
“I manage the chairmanship position for four years and I had written a lot of letters to the ministry for us to reduce the intake because we are denying the children the opportunity to qualify.
“The graduated cadets now call themselves captain, whereas they cannot differentiate left leg from right and they cannot go back to school.
“So their life is wasted because they are not employable,” Biu said. He emphasised the need to dialogue with government, adding that the consideration of admitting five cadets each from a state was political.
Biu said, “ It makes sense when admitted cadets engaged in sea-time training after academic exercise.’’
The mariner said that shipping was now automated, adding that a ship could only absorb at least four cadets of different disciplines.
He attributed the short fall of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) to government, for buying 19 ships at the same time, adding that all the ship aged at the same time.
“When the ships got aging, the cost of maintenance is not the cost of maintaining motorcycles.
“Running a vessel a day will cost you nothing less than 25,000 dollars per day and when they aged, they cost you more.
“What should have been done was to buy two ships every two years to enable government to maintain them.
“A vessel is supposed to operate entirely on commercial consideration not political consideration.
“The vessels are supposed to provide service for which they earn revenue, I think I commanded at least four NNSL vessels,” Biu said.
He said that most African Shipping lines went down; such as Black Star Line, Cam Ship, Zim Line; and other Africa Lines that belong to European Conference line went down.
He said that NNSL went down first because Nigeria bought many ships at the same time, adding that Conference Line was no longer in existence which gives room for other shipping nation to excel.
Biu, however, commended Amaechi for re-establishing a National Fleet which would be privately driven.